out-of-office: aleksandra lun (english)

Summertime! The international house of literature Passa Porta will briefly close its doors from 20 July to 15 August. We have entrusted the contents of our - and your ? - auto reply assistant to 12 different authors, in various languages and genres. Their out-of-office messages, including their personal reading tips, will be unleashed on you in four episodes over the next few weeks. Follow the series and use your favourite message for your own out-of-office!

Aleksandra Lun was born in Poland in 1979. She moved to Spain at the age of 19, before settling in Brussels ten years ago. To say that she has a knack for languages would be an understatement. As a literary translator working from English, French, Spanish, Catalan, Italian and Romanian into Polish, she is currently learning Dutch and wrote her debut novel The Palimpsests, not in her native Polish, but in Spanish. She was a guest at the online Passa Porta Festival 2021.

Subject : Out-of-Office


Thank you for your email. I am currently away from my desk, in the bathroom, where I am hiding from the journalists. They have been waiting on the other side of the door for hours. The building is empty and the lights are out. I have finished all the champagne I found in the fridge, left over from the day we floated the company. Who would have guessed back then that the most successful dating app on the market would come under investigation?

Until my return, I will have limited email access. It was via email that our star programmer contacted the authorities. He explained how the algorithm’s planned obsolescence worked: the moment users subscribed to our app, unbeknown to them they entered a never-ending cycle of relationships they had to renew at an ever-faster rate.

If the matter is urgent, please contact my associate Anya (anya@love-me.com). The planned obsolescence idea was hers. Our first algorithm worked perfectly. Users fell in love, got married: they cancelled their subscription. “If only we sold hairdryers, the kind that breaks down after six months,” said Anya. “Six months is a long time,” I responded. The next day, we started work on an upgrade.

Apologies for any inconvenience my absence may cause. From the bathroom I can hear the journalists’ voices. The ignorant horde. How they love to demonise the rich, to blame us for everything. I was only satisfying a desire that had always been there. The desire for an eternal, unconditional love. A love you do not need to search for or work on. A love that, no matter what you do, will always be there: you simply need to open our app. Since the investigation has been underway, not a single user has cancelled their subscription. And we have increased the monthly fee.

Your email will not be forwarded.

Kind regards,



Aleksandra Lun 's reading tip :

Lori Saint-Martin, Pour qui je me prends : "A beautiful, moving story of the dissolution and reassembly of oneself through a new language: obligatory reading for anybody who feels that they live in more than one tongue."

Translation into English by Elizabeth Bryer

(You are free to take this message from Aleksandra Lun and use it as your own out-of-office message, stating: © Aleksandra Lun, for Passa Porta, International House of Literature, Brussels, 2022.)

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Illustration © Valentine Lafitte & Passa Porta 2022